Blindfold Chess

Jan 31, 2011, 6:33 PM |

I was quite intrigued at the thought of blindfold chess. I was viewing YouTube videos about chess, and something caught my eye: Blind Fold chess. I was watching GM's playing chess with a blind fold on! It was incredble! For the first time in my life, I was watching people play chess without looking at the board. 

I was stunned. I never knew people even had this psy-sptial ability to play chess without a board. 

I went even deeper, looking into Wikipedia about blindfold chess, reading blogs about people playing blindfold chess, and even read a story about 2 high school students playing chess in their textbooks by writing down annotations. 

But the story that confounded me the most was this: two Central Asian horsemen riding side by side playing chess by calling chess moves to each other without using a board or pieces. 

I was blown away. I have never heard of such an extraordinary superhuman ability. However, according to statistics, there are some in this world who have been able to play blindfold chess successfully. Not many, but about a couple thousand people in this world are able to do it.

I decided to wonder: can someone like me perform this near-superficial task? There are many blogs and videos on the web that explain the "proper" way to train yourself for blindfold chess. But I personally believe that everyone learns different, so I steered clear of that trench of tips and tricks. I concluded that there are too many ways people can start learning blindfold chess, so having a mentor of any sort would be a waste. Some people could practice first by visualizing all the pieces on the board first, starting on one file at a time. Some begin right away, playing a game of blindfold chess as far as they can remember the positions. So learning from someone else is basically pointless.

I was actually very excited to play chess without looking at the board, so I quickly began a game, just to start things off. This is my first game I played, as far as I could get on my first try ever attempting to remember all the chess positions before I could forget even a single piece position.



I was very surprised I could actually remember so many positions and moves all the way down to near middle game. I was pleased, but the blogs on blindfold chess were right: it takes immense of mental power to go beyond a few moves. I don't want to sound like an idiot, but I actually fell asleep for 2 hours by accident after my blindfold chess expedition. My brain was fried. I could not believe I took an accidental nap from lack of brain power. I never take naps ^^

The way I decided to tackle this enormous challenge was to first familiarize myself with annotations and having the ability to instantly be able to distinguish if it was a light or dark square, and having a general knowledge of its location. I have barely crossed this step in my training, so I bet I wont be able to play an entire game of blindfold chess for a while. As I tried to distinguish squares, I also started trying to know the exact order of the first 8 letters of the alphabet, as I could see them on a chess board. I was having trouble with EFGH, but ABCD was easy. I literally recited EFGH for over an hour in a row, occasionally going EFGH-HGFE-EFGH-EF-EF-EF-GH-GH-GH, trying to visualize the pieces as I went along, also remembering which colored square they were placed. It took a while, but I nearly have them perfectly placed in my head. Just a little while longer til I can exact the placement of all the squares :]

I will update about once a month on my progress with blindfold chess. Perhaps by the end of the year, I can comfortably play an entire game without looking at the board. I can only imagine playing someone, but without me looking at the board. That would be the ultimate beauty of playing chess. Without a board, without pieces. Just pure verbal battle over a subconscious chess board. I can only imagine the look on the average persons face when I beat them in chess with my back turned ^^

Wish my luck on this immeasurable mission :D